In my decade of service as a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s Minnesota, I have performed more than 1,400 procedures on fetal patients, children and adolescents with diagnoses such as epilepsy, brain and spine tumors, and traumatic brain injuries. No matter the diagnosis or procedure, I’ve learned several factors remain the same when it comes to delivering consistent positive patient outcomes. Those critical factors are the clinical expertise of a multi-disciplinary team, partnering throughout the continuum of care, and having the technology at our disposal to care for patients.
In March 2023, Children’s Minnesota debuted a gamechanger in intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) technology. That’s when the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundat ion iMRI Surgical Suite – the first facility of its kind in North America – opened at our Minneapolis hospital. If you’re wondering what makes this 2,970 square-foot, three-room neurosurgery suite the only one of its kind on the continent – it’s the first pediatric hybrid iMRI suite equipped with both moving-scanner and moving-patient MRI technology in the same surgical space. Now, Children’s Minnesota’s neurosciences program and radiology department use the facility to perform both brain and total spine scans mid-procedure directly at the point of care.
The iMRI suite’s design allows experts to seamlessly move a 16,200-pound MRI scanner directly from the facility’s diagnostic room into one of the space’s neurosurgery operating rooms via a ceiling-mounted rail system. The floorplan also allows patients in the suite’s second operating room to be moved next door into the diagnostic room for a mid-procedure MRI. Its design also allows procedures to take place in both operating rooms as the scanner is being used in the diagnostic room simultaneously. Simply put, the iMRI suite enhances how my team makes important decisions at the point of care before a patient’s incision is closed. For example, if a mid-procedure scan detects additional tumors, our team can develop a plan in real-time to remove the remaining cancerous tissue. This crucial process will help prevent additional procedures for many of our patients and maximize their chances for a good outcome. The strength of the MRI scanner in the suite, measured in the unit of Tesla (T), is also a significant upgrade. The suite’s 3T MRI scanner, compared to 1.5T or smaller scanners at other medical facilities, makes a major difference in the quality of each scan used to locate and remove remaining cancerous tissue. I often compare the clarity of our new facility’s 3T scanner to watching an ultra-high-definition TV rather than a standard TV.
To date, our team has performed more than a dozen procedures in this state-of-the-art facility. The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation iMRI Surgical Suite – which shares its namesake with the philanthropic foundation that generously committed a $5.5 million lead gift to the facility – is another arrow in our quiver to provide the best care possible at Children’s Minnesota.
If you would like to refer a patient or connect with a Children’s Minnesota kid expert 24/7, call the Children’s Minnesota Physician Access line at 866-755-2121.
This information was provided by Children’s Minnesota, a MNAAP annual sponsor.